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Pratibha Patil calls for nation building, urges people to make “qualitative difference”

New Delhi, July 24 (ANI): President Pratibha Devisingh Patil on Tuesday urged the citizens to contribute towards building a “strong, progressive, cohesive and corruption-free nation”, while underlining that nation building is a “collective endeavour” and that every citizen must try to make a “qualitative difference” to the process of nation building.

Addressing the nation on the eve of demitting the office of the president, the first woman President of the country touched upon a variety of issues, including the need to fight social evils, ensuring gender stability, upholding the values enshrined in the Constitution and the need to ensure quality education to the children.

Commenting on the current political scenario in the country, which is witnessing a steady trend of coalition politics, Patil said, “There are regional aspirations as well. Expectations are rising and the people are seeking quicker responses to their problems. It is in these settings that promises are to be met, duties to be performed, and results to be delivered. Even as we seek progress, we must not forget that nation building is a collective endeavour and each one has a role to play and contribute according to his or her might.”

She emphasised on the need to uphold the values envisaged in the Constitution, “which call for excellence, harmony, rejecting violence and upholding the unity and integrity of India.”

Patil exhorted the nation to fight against corruption, calling it “the enemy of development, ” and urged the government and the people to “come together to achieve this national objective.”

Pointing towards the social evils prevalent in the society, she called for a review of existing laws against such evils, while reiterating that the government, social organizations, NGOs and other voluntary bodies must work collectively to fight the stigma.

“Laws on these subjects have been passed and could be reviewed. Also, I believe, passing laws is not enough by itself. There has to be a social effort for creating awareness, beginning with the family, so that young minds imbibe the right values,” she said.

Patil also called upon school and college students to “focus on acquiring knowledge and developing progressive and humane attitudes.”

“Education, which should also include physical education, is very important for every boy and girl for an enlightened society. A lot rests on our educational institutions, research organizations and scientific bodies, to come out with new technologies and new innovations. The nation has high expectations from them,” she added.

Further, she called upon a “knowledge based approach” in agriculture to enhance farm output.

“A paradigm shift, where, in addition to, physical inputs for farming, a focused emphasis placed on knowledge inputs, can be a promising way forward. This knowledge based approach will bring immense returns particularly in Rainfed and Dryland farming areas,” Patil stated.

“Agriculture is a sector that also needs greater integration with other sectors of the economy, including much more engagement with industry. This can work when the rights of farmers on their land is fully protected,” she added.

Patil also underlined the need for sustainable urban habitat, calling it an “important concept” for India.

“It essentially encompasses environment sustainability and inclusiveness. Residents should organize themselves and fully participate in various activities to make their cities sustainable,” she explained.

Talking about the issue of gender equality, the outgoing president said, “I hope the efforts of the ‘National Mission for Empowerment of Women’, set up two years ago with the aim of achieving gender equality and justice as well as holistic development of women through co-ordination among stakeholders, will bear fruit. I also feel that women contribute to building a more decent and compassionate society, as the feeling of caring and nurturing is inherent in their nature.”

Patil underscored the relevance of inclusive economic growth, and called India “an example of how economic growth can be achieved within a democratic framework.”

“I believe economic growth should translate into the happiness and progress of all. Alongwith it, there should be development of art and culture, literature and education, science and technology,” she said.

Discussing the need to make sacrifices for the national cause, Patil praised the efforts undertaken by the defence forces.

” I would like to appreciate the important role of our armed forces in guarding our borders and of our security forces in maintaining law and order in the country. With terrorism and extremism in our region, we cannot let down our guard,” she added.

“In a pluralistic society, the most, utmost strength lies in unity. It is only when we are united that every challenge will become surmountable. Do not let any divisive agenda take root or sway you. As more than one billion people use this collective strength to create a symphony, so that the world waits to listen to you,” Patil said, while wishing peace, prosperity and happiness” to the nation.

President-elect Pranab Mukherjee will take oath as the thirteenth president of the country on Wednesday, ending days of speculations and political arithmetic.

Chief Justice of India S.H. Kapadia will administer the swearing-in ceremony, scheduled to start at 11:30 a.m. in Parliament’s historic Central Hall. (ANI)